Battersea: Scalded dog cruelty case sentence shows the need for five-year sentences in Scotland


A Dundee man has been jailed for less than five months for pouring boiling water over his pet dog - a day after MSPs from all Scottish political parties publicly backed Battersea Dogs & Cats Home’s campaign for stronger sentences for horrific cases of animal abuse and cruelty.

Stewart Milne was sentenced at Dundee Sheriff Court yesterday (21 September) to 145 days in jail after he admitted spilling boiling water over his dog Buddy’s neck and failing to seek veterinary help. The Scottish SPCA took Buddy into their expert care and tried to treat him but by then he had developed an infection and later died of his injuries.

Milne was also jailed for possession of a knife and other offences, bringing his total prison sentence to 320 days. The maximum sentence for animal cruelty offences in Scotland is currently 12 months in prison. The Scottish Government announced earlier this month that they were planning to increase the maximum sentence to five years in prison.

The verdict came just 24 hours after Battersea was joined by 20 MSPs and other animal charities, including the Scottish SPCA and Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home, at the Scottish Parliament, in a call for all politicians to support five-year sentences. The Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, Roseanna Cunningham MSP, was among those in attendance.

Battersea’s leading dog law expert, Trevor Cooper, said: “The details of Buddy’s suffering are truly harrowing and the fact Milne was only sentenced to 145 days in prison proves that the maximum sentence for animal cruelty offences in Scotland really is inadequate. The support we received this week from the Cabinet Secretary and MSPs from all Scottish political parties shows this is an issue that Scots feel strongly about. It’s now crucial we get cross-party backing to increase maximum sentences for animal cruelty."

Battersea published new research in August showing how Scotland has among the lowest sentences for animal cruelty in Europe, the United States and Australia. Only a few nations, including England and Wales have lower sentences, and under current laws offenders in Scotland could get more for dumping litter than they would for torturing or killing an animal.

Scottish SPCA Inspector Karen Cooper said, “The wounds on Buddy were extensive, with several of them scabbed over and infected with yellow pus. They clearly needed treatment and would have been causing Buddy considerable pain.

“A responsible dog owner would have immediately sought veterinary treatment for the dog but sadly in this circumstance that was not the case.”

Trevor Cooper continued: “Battersea will always speak out for animals, who have no voice of their own. We are greatly encouraged by the support we received from MSPs yesterday and would urge all animal lovers in Scotland to contact their MSPs to tell them how important this issue is.”

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Notes to Editors


Visit or use the hashtag #NotFunny on Twitter to follow the campaign
Battersea launched a campaign to increase the six-month maximum sentence in England and Wales to five years in February. So far, more than 60,000 people have signed up to back it and 136 MPs and MSPs have pledged their support.
The maximum sentence for animal cruelty under the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006 is just 12 months in Scotland, compared to two years in France, three years in Germany and five years in both Ireland and Northern Ireland
From 2011 to 2016, 522 people were convicted of animal cruelty offences under the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006
Top comedians Paul O’Grady, Ricky Gervais, Sue Perkins, Harry Hill and Tracey Ullman are all backing Battersea’s campaign
Established in 1860, Battersea Dogs & Cats Home aims never to turn away a dog or cat in need of our help, caring for them until their owners or loving new homes can be found, no matter how long it takes. We are champions for, and supporters of, vulnerable dogs and cats, determined to create lasting changes for animals in our society. 
Since it was founded, Battersea has rescued, reunited and rehomed over 3.1 million dogs and cats.
In 2016 the Home cared for over 7000 dogs and cats.
Battersea cares for an average of 270 dogs and 200 cats across its three centres at any one time.
There are over 160,000 charities in the UK and according to YouGov, Battersea is amongst the top ten best known.
Battersea’s award-winning programme Paul O’Grady For the Love of Dogs is broadcast on STV. Now in its sixth year, the family favourite enjoyed 45 million viewers in 2016.